After a seven-hour overnight bus we have arrived into bustling Huaraz, getting closer by the day to southern Peru where the most eagerly-anticipated adventures (Nazca lines, Colca Canyon and, of course, Machu Picchu) await.
But there is much to entertain the eye here, and so after a nice breakfast of omelettes on the roof terrace of our hostel, we set out to walk up to the so called “black mountain” nearby. Walking through town there are plenty of food markets and vendors; we even saw one with a monkey on his shoulder. Lines of plucked chickens hang by their heads from stalls where salesmen shout out to passersby, while women in vibrant traditional dress haul small children over their shoulders in striped woven slings.
Huaraz stands tall at 3,052 m (10,013 ft), and the elevation makes for difficult climbing! We made our way up 350m of steep, rocky ground, looking back on stunning views of the city, and finally caught our ragged breath atop the mountain ridge after 1.5 hours. It was an amazing sight.
We weren’t so lucky with the weather on the way back down. After nibbling on bananas, nuts and Pringles for half an hour we noticed some ominous black clouds rolling in across the white-topped mountains to the west, and after the thunder clapped above us it was time to go.
We ended up totally soaked to the bones and cold to the core in an enormous hail storm. Rain ran in muddy rivulets down the path we had ascended earlier in the day while we got pounded with pea-sized stones from above.
Now, back at the hostel, our sodden coats are hung up by their hoods like the limp chickens dangling from the market stalls we passed this morning. I think I’ll be spending the rest of the day in bed…